Strange duplicate "Documents" folder suddenly appeared in Windows Vista, how to delete just one Folder without deleting its identical twin?

Posted on 2010-01-02
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
HELP!!  Identical duplicate directory of 'Documents' folder suddenly appeared in Windows Vista and I can't get rid of the new one without also deleting the original!

Okay, I know it may be a long explanation, but I want you to get the whole picture without me having to repost several times trying to clarify my issue.  

I am hoping somebody out there has an idea how to solve this bizarre issue, I booted and logged into my Dell Vostro PC this morning to find my 'Documents' folder had somehow replicated itself. I figured this was some strange reference file or pointer to my usual 'Documents' folder in my non-roaming profile.

Later that day, I cut and pasted 7 gigabytes worth of ski trip videos from my HD cam into an empty folder I named "Ski Trip Videos" which ended up with a 7.3 GB total size.

Out of curiosity, I decided to check the OTHER strange new 'Documents' that had appeared this morning and lo and behold, I noticed all the videos were ALSO listed in the new replicated 'Documents' folder?!  I thought that very odd since I only pasted the videos into ONE of the 'Documents' folders.  Now the total size of BOTH "My Videos" folders equaled 14.6 gigs of space, that being an EXACT DUPLICATE set of the same videos in BOTH 'Documents' folders.

Not wanting to waste all that space with duplicates, I did what anyone probably would and deleted the EXTRA DUPLICATE set of videos that appeared in one of the replicated 'Documents' folders, then went to the original Documents folder where I put the original set of videos and the videos were GONE in this folder too?!!!  What the crap is going on here?!

Now my videos are gone from both Documents folders with no backup since I cut and pasted them from my camera to the Documents folder and ran Crap Cleaner when I deleted the DUPLICATE SET because it was taking up nearly 15 GIGS of space, not just 7.2 as it should have.

Here's my question: somehow I have 2 EXACT LINKED & REPLICATED 'Documents' folders in my Administrator Profile (the one I normally use) and any file I create or delete or modify in one Documents folder, also gets created, deleted or modified in the other 'Documents' folder, is if its somehow synchronizing between the two separate 'Documents' folders.  Since each 'Documents' folder is now a clone of each other, the total space that my 'Documents' takes on my hard drive is DOUBLE!!

So how do I figure out which 'Documents' folder is the 'new rouge folder' that appeared this morning (both have identical created & modified time/date stamps) and is making duplicates of any file I tinker with and delete the spare Documents folder, WITHOUT ALSO DELETING the original 'Documents' folder since both 'Documents' folders act like conjoined twins, each folder independently taking up its own space and sectors on my hard drive yet at the same time, acting like one massive unit inseparable?

I've put up some screenshots to help illustrate this double 'Documents' mess if anyone knows about this or can help me figure out a solution or workaround, dunno if its related to a corrupted profile or what, but I'm not running any RAID so I know that's not what it is.  I just want to figure this out before it turns into another 'Vista spiral of death sysndrome' before I'm forced into doing something drastic (ie; reformat, upgrade to Windows 7 or switch to a MAC everyone nags me to do!).

Thank you anyone, everyone for helping me with this, you are my only hope! :)

Some Basic SysInfo (if it helps any):

OS: Windows Vista Professional v6.0.6002 Service Pack 2 (Build v6002)
Processor:       Dual Core Intel Pentium CPU E2220 @ 2.40GHz
Installed Physical Memory (RAM)      8.00 GB DDR Corsair
Boot Device: \Device\HarddiskVolume1 (C:)
Logical Devices: (D:, E:, F:, G:)
RAID: False
System Directory: C:\Windows\System32
Page File:      G:\pagefile.sys (64 GB solid-state hdd - dedicated)
GPU: Dell NVIDIA GeForce 9800 (1.00 GB RAM [1,073,741,824 bytes])
Question by:runninghoove
    LVL 74

    Accepted Solution

    Those icons are just shortcut to a folder.

    You will probably find you simply have 2 shortcuts to the same folder which is why when you delete from 1 it also deletes from the other because they are in fact te same folder.
    LVL 74

    Expert Comment

    by:Glen Knight
    The images actually confirm this, if you look in the address bar the location is exactly the same.
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    1. Goto: Start Menu > Run > Type regedit

    2. Goto:
    Shell Folders

    3. Edit String: 'Personal' > Change to the Drive/Folder that you want
    as 'My Documents' (contains all your user folders).

    4. Close and Restart Your Computer.

    After the restart you will no longer have duplicate user folders.
    LVL 74

    Expert Comment

    by:Glen Knight
    Please be carefull when modifying the registry!

    See here for a solution to the problem:
    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    by:John Griffith
    Hi -
    One thing that I do not understand here is the path the folders are located in - c:\users\documents
    The username is missing!  The path should be c:\users\yourusername\documents
    How did all those user folders get into c:\users ?
    Please run this command -
    START | type cmd.exe | RIGHT-click on cmd.exe | select "Run as Administrator" - then paste the command below into the cmd/DOS screen.   It will give us a directory listing & tree -
    dir /a/b>0 & dir /a/b/s>>0 & tree /a>>0 & echo *************>>0 & tree /a /f >>0 & start notepad 0
    A notepad will open w/ results.  Save it as a text file & attach to post.  Command is repeated in code box.
    Regards. .  .

    dir /a/b>0 & dir /a/b/s>>0 & tree /a>>0 & echo *************>>0 & tree /a /f >>0 & start notepad 0

    Open in new window

    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    I would assume it is a symbolic link rather than a normal short-cut. See

    The docs say you could delete the link by using the rmdir. If you want to go sure that only the symbolic link was deleted I would make a backup of the contents before.
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    If you compare the folder properties you will see that (just an example):
    One points to : C:\Users\SENAD\Documents
    and other :       C:\Users\Public\Documents

    This is because at some points you have selected that folder to be 'Shared'.
    Now your folder is ghosting to the 'public'.

    So you must remove the sharing of the folder.
    But if you look closely ,the folder is actually not shared !

    Solution is to turn off public file sharing.
    To change this setting use Network and Sharing center.
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    after completing, just move the contents of the public folder  into
    my doc folder (merge).Then you will see your folder will disappear.
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    here is what to to simply
    create another user and start moving your old documents to the new documents that you created
    because i beleave that you have a problem with user profile
    this solution worked for me
    and then you can delete the old user account

    Featured Post

    Wish Marketing would stop bothering you?

    Is your marketing department constantly asking for new email signature updates? Are they requesting a different design for every department? Do they need yet another banner added? Don’t let it get you down! There is an easy way to manage all of these requests...

    Join & Write a Comment

    Our Group Policy work started with Small Business Server in 2000. Microsoft gave us an excellent OU and GPO model in subsequent SBS editions that utilized WMI filters, OU linking, and VBS scripts. These are some of experiences plus our spending a lo…
    This is an article about Leadership and accepting and adapting to new challenges. It focuses mostly on upgrading to Windows 10.
    In this video, we discuss why the need for additional vertical screen space has become more important in recent years, namely, due to the transition in the marketplace of 4x3 computer screens to 16x9 and 16x10 screens (so-called widescreen format). …
    The Task Scheduler is a powerful tool that is built into Windows. It allows you to schedule tasks (actions) on a recurring basis, such as hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, at log on, at startup, on idle, etc. This video Micro Tutorial is a brief intro…

    755 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    19 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now